January 21, 2008

I'm flying home

Chris Gayle
Chris Gayle feels the pain after having his thumb broken, South Africa v West Indies, 2nd Test, Cape Town, January 5, 2008
 © Digicel
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Unfortunately the news today is not good – well, maybe that depends on how you look at it.

My tour of South Africa is coming to a premature conclusion because of my thumb and hamstring injuries. Given the most recent prognosis that I will require at least another two weeks of recovery before I could even consider picking up a bat again – furthermore being declared match fit – I have been granted permission by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to return home to Jamaica to concentrate on getting better.

As a result, I will be leaving Johannesburg as soon as possible – perhaps this evening – and should arrive in Kingston later this week, travelling via London.

It was far from an easy decision. I would love to be out on the field with the guys, fighting for the West Indies. There was some thought that I might be able to play in the ongoing one-day series in South Africa but that is not to be as our physio, C.J. Clarke has said that – based on a recent x-ray of my broken left thumb – I wouldn’t be able to do any batting before January 26 at earliest.

I had already been feeling quite frustrated at just sitting around and having to watch my team-mates battling out in the middle without any contribution from me. This injury update only made me feel worse. I therefore spoke to team management and the WICB chief executive, Dr. Donald Peters, who was here in South Africa, and expressed the view that it would be best for me to head back to the Caribbean immediately and focus on recovering fully. Sitting on the sidelines was really beginning to affect me.

While I’m sorry to leave South Africa on such a sad note, I have spoken with the guys and they understand perfectly. We will be hosting two top teams, Sri Lanka and Australia, in the coming months and I definitely want to be 100 percent fit for those matches. So leaving the tour is the most logical step at this stage.

I have wished Dwayne (Bravo) and all the players the very best for the rest of the South Africa series. I know they will give their all and try to win the series. We played decent cricket in the second Twenty20 last Friday and in the first one-dayer yesterday, but we came up short in both games, losing by four and six wickets respectively.

We just need to continue believing in ourselves and in the knowledge that we have beaten South Africa before and that we can do it again. Our batsmen must get better starts to give us a foundation on which to build. I have to say though that the pitches in these last two games were not the easiest to bat on. Our bowlers have been doing well overall but it’s hard to get ten wickets in a one-dayer sometimes with the fielding restrictions and the guys spread so far apart. I think our problem is in the ‘middle period’ of the match and that’s where South Africa has been able to get away from us. We will need to concentrate on restricting the runs if wickets are hard to get. I truly wish the West Indies well and look forward to watching the remainder of the series on television.

Before I forget, I want to hail the Jamaica national team for their outstanding performances in the Carib Beer Cricket Series so far, winning all three of their matches. I hope they can continue improving and lift the title this year. Great going guys! See you soon!

Finally, I want to thank fans for their support and encouragement throughout the tour on the African continent. As always, it was an honour to represent and captain the West Indies and I’m looking forward to returning to the team once I am fully fit. I trust that will be sooner rather than later.

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